Not long ago, the idea of staying in Brooklyn, Queens, or the Bronx instead of Manhattan during a New York City visit would’ve been met with disbelief. One, who stayed overnight in the outer boroughs unless a flight was involved? Two, no one could name a decent hotel because...well, there weren’t many.
But times have definitely changed. Visitors and businesses alike have been flocking to nifty-sounding neighborhoods -- and to more palatable prices. The outer boroughs' new hotels have been varied, ranging from well-known chain properties to offbeat boutiques. Here are a few on the scene that we love, plus a couple more to look forward to in the future.
Though it’s been a year since this hotel (which stands for "Beats Per Minute") opened, it still remains relatively unknown. Every time we’ve visited, it’s relatively quiet -- interesting for a music-themed hotel owned by the well-known DJ BIJAL. It’s one subway stop from the Barclay’s Center, but the hotel's side street location is so hidden that even cab drivers get confused. Book from the hotel's website directly for the best rates -- starting at $209 -- and to possibly score upgrades, which would be ideal considering the very small sizes of the lowest category rooms. Still, all rooms manage to squeeze in Frette linen-draped beds, work tables, SmartTVs, and more. A restaurant is on its way this winter.
Urban Cowboy B&B
This property contributes to Williamsburg's expected kitsch with a four-bedroom, one-cabin townhouse that brings a sense of country living without the long road trip. A shared bathroom may be off-putting for some -- only the “Master” Den has a private one -- and it might take you a while to try the backyard hot tub, but you'll forget all about the awkwardness after the communal breakfast of granola, quiche, and home-roasted coffee. This is especially true when you consider the Adirondack-style B&B's starting rates of $100 per night, right in Brooklyn’s most talked-about town.
Hampton Inn Brooklyn/Downtown
July 2014 marked the debut of Hilton’s first borough voyage, and they picked a good spot on the Flatbush Avenue extension at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge. Funky, local art reminds guests that they're in Brooklyn, but the comfy beds and massaging WaterPik showerheads entice visitors to stay in. For those who can afford the splurge, views from the 15th floor wraparound terraces are incredible; otherwise, standard king rooms start from $249-$259 this fall. The complimentary hot breakfast buffet is a great deal that tastes beyond decent, with a waffle station, omelettes, crispy bacon, and a huge pastry section. Short on time? Grab a free “On the Run” breakfast bag.
Update: King & Grove hotel group is now called Chelsea Hotels, and the Williamsburg property has been renamed the McCarren Hotel & Pool, a nod to the hotel's three-season saltwater pool, one of NYC's largest outdoor crowd-pleasing options. While rates can go as high as $535 in September, visitors with a bit of flexibility can find some $345 rates using its online booking tool.
The Parc Hotel
If headlining events at Flushing Meadows Par -- like the U.S. Open -- or early flights out of LaGuardia Airport are part of your plans, consider this 96-room gem, just three miles from the airport and one mile from Citi Field and USTA Tennis Center. While the location isn’t the most glam, the surrounding Asian restaurants more than make up for it (it's what Flushing's known for). The hotel rooms themselves are spacious and clean -- and come with free WiFi and Nespresso machines. Another draw: the just-opened year-round Zebra Skybar, with fantastic city views. Online rates currently begin at $119.
Hyatt Place Flushing/LaGuardia Airport
There are just 168 rooms at Hyatt’s first Queens hotel, which opened in May as part of the retail, office, and residential area that makes up One Fulton Square. It’s a mere three miles from the the airport, and, in a city that doesn’t sleep, 24/7 room service is a pretty fine perk, especially if you have to deal with odd flight times. Rooms come with a mass of freebies, from hot breakfast to WiFi to airport transfers. Rates begin at $219 a night in October.
Upcoming: The dual hotel Element Flushing and Four Points by Sheraton is coming September 2015. Starwood announced that the property will be a hop-skip from LaGuardia on 134-37 35th Avenue.
Opera House Hotel
Once a performance theater built in 1913, the historical 60-room Opera House Hotel appeals to travel-savvy folks unfazed by its South Bronx location. Yankee Stadium is only 1.5 miles away, and both the Botanical Gardens and Bronx Zoo is a short bus ride. While WiFi will cost you $7.99 per night, the free continental breakfast, Crunch Gym-run fitness center, and in-room microwave and mini-fridge help to soften the blow. (The latter is especially useful for heating up leftover arroz con gandules and roasted pork from La Isla Cuchifrito on 149th Street.) Need to get to mid-Manhattan? Arrive in 20 minutes via subway.
Days Inn Bronx-Yankee Stadium
The Days Inn often gets a bad rap as a dusty-musty motel, so we were initially hesitant when we heard about this property. But a trusted tipster who stayed overnight came back with decent reviews, so we can recommend this for out-of-towners keen on a Yankee game. It's the closest hotel you’ll find, about 12 blocks away, and while rooms are pretty run-of-the-mill, free continental breakfast and WiFi are always good perks. The $130 per night starting rates are also pretty sweet.
Upcoming: Look for the Residence Inn New York The Bronx Zoo at Metro Center Atrium in November 2014.